CSVA
Centre for the Study of the Viking Age
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Current PhD projects

 The Centre for the Study of the Viking Age provides an umbrella for PhD students working on a wide range of topics in Old Norse-Icelandic and Viking Studies, and other closely-related fields. Current research ranges across Viking Age history, place-names, runology, Old Icelandic sagas, and Medievalism, with some students also looking at comparative material from Old and Middle English.

Writing the Middle Ages: a re-evaluation of the fantastical in historical fiction

Fantastical phenomena - visions, apparitions, spirits, monsters, elves and other marvels - formed an intrinsic part of life in the Middle Ages, and yet are not usually afforded serious treatment by historical novelists. My project will examine whether it is possible to reconcile the fantastical with the historical in modern fiction about the period, and how such an integration might be achieved. 

The creative component of my thesis will be a historical novel with magic realist elements, set in post-1066 England. Drawing upon concepts of the otherworldly and the monstrous from Anglo-Saxon and Norse traditions, it will explore the trauma of conquest and the imposition of colonial rule.

The accompanying contextual analysis will examine how the fantastical and the historical intersect in a variety of medieval texts, from Beowulf to Eyrbyggja saga, as well as in recent historical novels by writers including Umberto Eco and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Supervised by

Dr Spencer Jordan, School of English, University of Nottingham

Dr Christina Lee, School of English, University of Nottingham

Publications

Sworn Sword. London: Preface, 2011.
The Splintered Kingdom. London: Preface, 2012.
Knights of the Hawk. London: Preface, 2013.
The Harrowing. London: Heron, 2016.

Other research interests

  • The relationship between history and fiction
  • Medievalism
  • Public understanding of the past
 

 

‘A wide-warp warns of slaughter…’: Textiles, gender and Identity in Old English and Old Norse literature

The aim of this thesis is to explore the overlooked connection between identity and textiles in early medieval literature. A brief glance at the literary representations of textiles (clothing, housewares, tapestries, sails, etc.) demonstrates how important cloth and the cloth-industry was to the daily lives of everyone, regardless of the intersections of their identity. Through closer reading, however, it becomes more apparent that textiles are used as a type of shorthand through which the subtleties of identity can be expressed. By paying close attention to the language used to describe (or name) textiles, as well as to the context in which they appear, it is possible to achieve a deeper understanding of medieval identity.

Supervised by

Dr. David Clark, School of English, University of Leicester

Dr Christina Lee, School of English, University of Nottingham

Other research interests

  • Popular/contemporary adaptation of medieval sources (especially in fantasy literature)
  • Ælfric’s female saints ‘Lives’
  • Intersections between religious and Queer identities
 

 

 

 

Runes, runic inscriptions and runic writing as primary sources for town development in Bergen, Norway

Using a database as the foundation for analyses of runic inscriptions discovered in Bergen, I am looking at how those inscriptions mirror daily life in a trading town from the 11th to the 14th century AD.

Supervised by

Professor Judith Jesch, School of English, University of Nottingham

Dr Chris King, Department of Archaeology, University of Nottingham

Professor Gitte Hansen, Universitetet i Bergen

Publications

 

Other research interests

  • Scandinavian children’s literature
  • Data processing in the humanities
  • Crime novels from Conan Doyle to Stieg Larsson
 

 

Danelaw Bounderies: the place-name evidence in context

My research investigates Scandinavian influence in the border regions of Anglo-Scandinavian England, using place-names as historical evidence where traditional textual evidence is limited.

I am analysing Scandinavian nomenclature in eleven modern counties, ranging from Essex in the south-east to Cheshire in the north-west. These counties include those adjoined or bisected by the boundary of the Alfred-Guthrum treaty - a peace dated c. AD 886 between Alfred, king of Wessex, and Guthrum, a viking leader -  and neighbouring counties which feature natural borders for Scandinavian influence (e.g. The Fens in Cambridgeshire).

The counties' place-names, although complex evidence, provide the opportunity to assess the level of Scandinavian linguistic influence in these regions.

Supervised by

Dr Jayne Carroll, Institute for Name-Studies, University of Nottingham

Dr John Baker, Institute for Name-Studies, University of Nottingham

 

Publications

 

Other research interests

  • Old English and Old Norse linguistics
  • Literary Onomastics
  • Christianity in Medieval Literature 
 

 

 

 

Family, Kin, and Affinity: The Family Unit in the Íslendingasögur.

My thesis concentrates on the representations of Family in the Íslendingasogur. A key question of my thesis is how the Icelandic sagas use terms that denote 'family' or 'relative' in their narratives. I will examine the use of words such as kyn, frændi, ætt, and hjón in the Íslendingasögur by frequency and context in order to elucidate ideas surrounding the categorising of family in Old Norse language. I will then compare the literary representations of family relationships against the above findings in order to elucidate structures in the depictions of family in the Icelandic Family sagas. 

Supervised by

Professor Judith Jesch, School of English, University of Nottingham

Dr Christina Lee, School of English, University of Nottingham

Publications

 

Other research interests

  • Gender in Old Norse Literature
  • Domestic Life in the Icelandic sagas
 

 

A comparative study of Scandinavian expansion into England, Ireland and Eastern Europe from the 8th to 10th centuries

Using a multi-disciplinary approach, I intend to provide a comparison of Scandinavian expansion into the two major sectors of settlement. By combining literary and archaeological data it will be possible to give an overall picture of this migration and provide new insights into the process of migration over a wide geographical area.

Supervised by

Professor Judith Jesch, School of English, University of Nottingham

Dr John Baker, School of English, University of Nottingham

Other research interests

  • Viking Age Diaspora
  • Icelandic Sagas
  • Archaeology
 

 

 

 

The arboreal toponym: place-name evidence for the exploitation of trees in early medieval England

I am conducting a comprehensive country-wide survey of tree related place-names that are first attested in early medieval England. Analysing this data within the context of the landscape will provide valuable insights into the use and perception of trees in Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian settled England.

Supervised by

Dr John Baker, Institute for Name-Studies, University of Nottingham
Dr Jayne Carroll, Director, Institute for Name-Studies, University of Nottingham

Other research interests

The representation of forests in European literature
The use of native and imported plants in early medieval medicine
Holistic land managment and permaculture

 

 

Life, Death, and Wisdom: liminal spaces in Eddic Poetry

My research is focused on narrative instances found in Eddic texts where themes of wisdom, life, and death are all present, and the implications that can be drawn from this. I am naturally focused on 'wisdom poems', such as Hávamál, Grímnismál, and Vafþrúðnismál. I am also researching poems that do not fall into this usual category, such as the 'heroic' poems such as Fáfnismál and the poetic fragments of the Fornaldarsǫgur.  

I am in my first year of research and I naturally expect my research to become more detailed in time.

Supervised by

Professor Judith Jesch, School of English, University of Nottingham

Dr Paul Cavill, School of English, University of Nottingham

Other research interests

  • Wisdom depictions in Poetry and Prose
  • Comparisons between the 'Mythological' and the 'Heroic'
  • Old English elegies 
 

 

Shape-changers and loathly ladies: exploring gender in Medieval Icelandic and Middle English literature and society

The aim of my thesis is to compare ideas and representations of gender and shape-shifting between medieval Icelandic and medieval English literature. I am in the midst of compiling a database of types of shape-shifters in my sources to determine who was changing shape, whether they intended to change or were changed by an outside force, for what reason these characters changed shape, and overall how this relates to their perceived gender and proscribed gender roles. I chose to compare medieval Icelandic and English literature for a number of reasons, including but not limited to investigating how medieval Icelandic scribes translated romances into Old Norse and later wrote their own romances, and what of their translations and original works resembled the original motifs and structures.

Supervised by

Dr Christina Lee, School of English, University of Nottingham
Dr Joanna Martin, School of English, University of Nottingham

Other research interests

  • Women’s and Gender Studies
  • Social history
  • Medieval gender history
 

 

Visualizing social networks in Landnámabók 

CassidyCroci
Cassidy Croci
 

My research project investigates multiple familial, spatial and social networks in Landnámabók  using a novel interdisciplinary methodology combining historical and literary approaches with social network analysis and visual analytics. This approach visualizes  networks in Landnámabók as well as uncovers emerging patterns of diaspora, settlement, migration and place. 

Landnámabók is a useful source to investigate networks because it contains ‘some 3,500 personal names and more than 1,500 place-names’ (Benediktsson 1969: 275). The text enumerates the initial settlers of Iceland and their settlements clockwise around the island during the landnámsöld (c. 870-930). Yet, it is more than a mere catalogue. The genealogies of Ldn extend forwards and backwards through time and the text is furnished with short narratives describing settlers, their families and land-claims. Additionally, there are five extant versions of Ldn, three medieval (Sturlubók, Hauksbók, Melabók) and two early modern (Skarðsárbók and Þóðarbók). These factors make Landnámabók an ideal choice to apply social network analysis. 

Supervised by

Professor Judith Jesch, School of English, University of Nottingham

Dr Sheryllynne Haggerty, Humanities, University of Nottingham

Other research interests

  • Viking Age 
  • Old Norse-Icelandic literature  
  • Social network analysis and visual analytics  
  • Medieval Scandinavian history  
  • Diaspora and Migration studies 
 
 

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Centre for the Study of the Viking Age

Trent Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5900
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 5924
email: csva@nottingham.ac.uk